Indianapolis, IN — We all knew the end was near for the 11-time all-star, but we didn’t think it was going to be this soon.
Indiana’s Tamika Catchings put on her Fever jersey for last time Wednesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, as her team fell short to the Phoenix Mercury, 89-78.
Catchings once again led her team, this time she recorded her final double-double of her career with 13 points and 10 rebounds. She also finished her final career game playing aggressive defense - something she’s always done in her career - with three steals.
“We worked our butts off,” Fever coach Stephanie White said. “You know we fought, we clawed we did exactly what we asked our players to do.”
Indiana scrapped and clawed for their role model — their unquestioned leader — but they struggled to finish the task. Indiana finished the night, shooting for only 37% from the field, and only 19% from behind the arc.
As time winded down on the clock, the emotions started to set in on Catchings’ face, constantly checking the clock, looking to see how much time her team had left to pull off the comeback.
With just seconds to go in the game, White began to clear her bench, she even sent a player to the check-in table to pull out Catchings — Catchings waved her teammate off, staying in the game until the final buzzer. She made sure to absorb her final seconds on the court, as one of the best players to play not only for Indiana, but, in the WNBA.
“Catchings is the ultimate competitor,” Bonner reflected on the all-star leaving the game. “She is a great player. It sucks that we had to end her career, but to play against her for her last game, it was an honor.”
Bankers Life Fieldhouse gave Catchings a standing ovation, as she made her way down the line hugging her teammates in front of their bench. She shared a tear-jerking embrace with her point guard of eight seasons, Briann January, before she gave every Mercury player one final hug on the court.
Phoenix will fly to New York to face off against Tina Charles and the Liberty for another single elimination game. The game will be played on Saturday, Sept. 24 at 7p.m. ET and will be broadcasted on NBA TV and ESPN 3.